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Mon, Dec 04, 2023

NetJets Union Takes Aim at Buffett

Anger at Berkshire Continues Among Pilot Base

The death of Warren Buffett's right-hand man Charlie Munger has rippled across the investment industry, providing the disgruntled NetJets union another chance to take aim at their company's parent company, Berkshire Hathaway.

The NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) has been in a long-running back-and-forth with their employer, publishing candid statements speaking to the overall drop in prestige they feel the brand has suffered in recent years. The dwindling pilot base seems to agree, with reports of 270 NetJets pilots leaving the company this year alone - in a pilot base of 3,000, that's a pretty significant portion. Earlier this year, the NJASAP said they had "grown increasingly concerned as the luster that once distinguished NetJets as a career destination for top pilot talent continues to fade."

Following the death of Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, they launched an ad campaign aimed straight at the head himself, calling out hypocrisy in Warren Buffett's words in a front-pager of The Wall Street Journal. The banner advert says:

"Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett Once Said: "...price is what you pay; value is what you get." NetJets owners are promised unrivaled reliability, service, and ease, but the Fractional refuses to invest in the highly qualified professional pilots who make that promise a reality. That is why 40% of pilot respondents in a recent survey said they would leave NetJets within a year due to failed contract negotiations." It ends with large print saying "OWNERS are paying the PRICE, but are they getting the VALUE?"

NJASAP President Pedro Leroux said that the company needs to invest in its pilots, retain talent, and rely less on fresh employees to fill the flight deck. “We fear NetJets’s intransigence on this industry-shaping moment will have very serious consequences for the brand’s ability to deliver the unparalleled safety and service product for which our customers pay a premium.”

“NetJets stands alone here,” Leroux added. “The unsurpassed number and location of the airports ­­­that NetJets services requires a pilot force with unmatched experience and proficiency.” NJASAP says their pilots perform "flight operations into 20 times as many airports" as comparable airline pilots, a more demanding ouvre that leaves little room for beginners. The industry is in a tough position, with thousands of retiring captains vacating seats every year, and a pool of time-hungry up-and-comers eager to fly for pay. NJASAP is digging in their heels to prevent the company from hiring low-time pilots than they used to. When there were plenty of pilots to hire, the company wanted those with 2,500 hours TT, which later dropped down to 1,500 TT in line with similar positions elsewhere. Now, the firm may accept pilots with 1,000 hours if they come from a military or approved academic background. That decline in apparent standards rankles NetJet pilots.

Leroux continued: “NetJets owners and customers deserve more than flying in the back of a flight school aircraft. Unless the fractional takes aggressive steps to pursue and to retain the best aviators in the marketplace, what was once the pinnacle of an aviator’s career will transition into a stepping stone toward the nation’s Part 121 carriers.”

FMI: www.njasap.com

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